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African civil society organisations oppose new seed protocol

15 June 2016, 19:47

Nairobi (Reuters) - Civil society organisations have opposed plans by 19 African states to introduce a regional protocol banning the use of uncertified seeds, a move aimed at protecting the intellectual property rights of plant breeders.

The Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) association, a regional network of 258 civil society groups in Africa representing eight million farmers, said on Wednesday the protocol would criminalise traditional farming methods and hurt small farmers to the benefit of multinational organisations.

The draft Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) also seeks to ban the saving and sharing of uncertified seeds.

ARIPO members include Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

"The Protocol ... criminalises the local seed systems and the practices that small-scale farmers have carried out for centuries," PELUM said in a statement.

It urged ARIPO member states to secure the rights of small-scale farmers, who contributed over 70 percent to food production in Africa, to freely save and share seeds.

- Reuters


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